Both Petra and the Dead Sea have both been on my bucket list for a long time. Recently when I got my work roster I was rostered a flight to Amman in Jordan. I knew straight away that I wanted to get out to Petra, and if possible try and tie in a visit to the Dead Sea.
I managed to organise a trip to do both, it was a long day getting picked up at 6am and returning back to the hotel at 6pm in the, it was a tiring day as we landed in late at night, but it was so worth it to tick not 1 but 2 things off my bucket list.
Petra was just an incredible site to behold and getting to see the Treasury (Al-Kazneh) which is the main icon of Petra, and an image most associated with Jordan was just amazing! Even though I didn’t have a full day at Petra, to experience just a glimmer of it was like a dream come true.
Sights & Activities
Amman Beach Resort – Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is a truly unique place and is the lowest place in the world at 430 meters below sea level! The Sea is located in Jordan’s Rift Valley, and is one of the worlds saltiest bodies of water. Its harsh environment means no plants or animals can live in the Dead Sea which is why it got its name. It’s almost ten times more salty than the Ocean and why it makes it so easy to float on the water, it’s like no other water I’ve been in before. The water almost has an oily texture to it, and as soon as you lift your feet off the floor you immediately start feeling the buoyancy in the water. After taking a dip in the Dead Sea your skin feels amazing too.
Around the coast of the Dead Sea in Jordan there are lots of hotels and resorts to choose from. After a hot and sweaty morning walking around Petra our driver drove us to Amman Beach Resort which is a pool and restaurant with its own private section of Beach. There are showers and changing facility’s and a few stalls selling drinks and pool supplies.
Entrance into the resort is JOD20 per adult or you can pay JOD30 for entrance and buffet lunch. We decided to pay the bit extra as it worked out at roughly £35, and the buffet lunch was pretty good. The entrance I did find quite pricey I think if we had a spent a full day there it would have felt better value for money but as we only went for a few hours, it seemed quite steep. However it’s a great place to experience the Dead Sea, and as it was an extremely hot day, so it was good to cool off in the swimming pools after spending time floating in the sea and being down at the beach.
The changing and shower facilities were also handy to have nearby too, as I know some people go further down the road and use the free public beach but it was nice to have somewhere to change and freshen up, and food and drinks easily available. The only downside to this resort was I felt like a bit more care could be taken at the beach, such as there was a bit of rubbish around which the resort could clear up, and also maybe having a few sun loungers down at the beach would have been nice, other than that the resort is a great place to visit to experience the uniqueness of the Dead Sea.
While spending some time in the Dead Sea you will notice all the salt at the bottom of the sea floor, and also there are patches of Dead Sea mud, try and scoop some of the mud up and put on your skin as it is full of lots of healing properties and minerals! I did find that the sea really helped clear up some of my acne, and you can see lots of locals covering themselves from head to toe in the mud!
Desert Highway & Kings Highway
There are 3 highways running almost along side each other connecting Amman city to the south of Jordan. Driving along these highways are an attraction in themselves with lots of desert and mountain views.
One of the highways runs along the shore of the Dead Sea, and then there is the fastest route which is the Desert Highway or the more scenic but slower route is the Kings Highway. When visiting Petra or the Dead Sea you will travel along one of these roads. If you have longer and are not pressed for time you can either drive or ask your driver to drive along the Kings Highway, and make stop offs at the many sites and attractions along the way.
Our driver did drive us along the Desert Highway and the Kings Highway both to and from Amman to Petra and Petra to the Dead Sea. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop off anywhere along the way, however the scenery driving along was stunning and the rugged terrain was a site in itself to see.
Petra is a famous archeological site known all around the world, and situated 3 hours south of the capital of Amman in Jordan. The ancient city is about 2000 years old, and is also known as the Rose City due to its colour of stone it’s carved from. These incredible formations sculpted out from the desert rocks and caves were only rediscovered in the 19th century. This once was a bustling city built out of the rock faces by the Nabateans which were nomadic desert people who’s kingdom and wealth grew from the incense trade.
Petra tells the story of a lost civilisation and feels like stepping back into the beginning of time. Petra has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985, and was voted as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The desert city has also been featured in many films over the years. It really is an amazing place and definitely one of the worlds man made treasures.
I knew as soon as I had a layover in Amman that I had to get myself out to Petra, as I only had a 24 hour layover I decided to spend the morning in Petra, and then escape the mid day heat and spend the afternoon at the Dead Sea. There are so many tombs, monastery’s, theatres, gorges and there is even a water supply system which for its time made this an oasis for the city to thrive.
I only spent a morning exploring the main sites of Petra, but you can buy a variety of passes I bought the 1 day pass which costs JOD50, however there were 2 and 3 day passes. Petra is huge and so spread out, if you have time I would recommend spending 1-2 full days here, and try and visit in the cooler seasons as most of Petra is best explored by foot. If your strapped for time like I was then I would recommend visiting in the morning especially in the summer months as temperatures soar in the afternoon.
The ticket price does also includes a horse ride but I declined as it was so hot and I didn’t see any water around for the horses, and had to admit felt a little sorry for them. As I wasn’t sure how they were looked after and treated I didn’t want to be contributing to any bad animal welfare. I have in the past and once I found out about the mistreatment of animals in tourism I now always try and do my research before having any part in it.
We explored Petra by foot and really enjoyed walking through the gorges and seeing the Treasury emerge from behind the rocks which is the main site of Petra with its intricate detailing which has remained well intact. We spent a while here admiring the view, and did climb up to a small viewpoint where a local had laid out some cushions and was selling mint tea and a good photo opportunity for just JOD1. We sat up on the rock drinking our tea enjoying the view and taking photos, this was one of my favourite parts of Petra. When you get to the Treasury be sure to climb up the few rocks and take a seat away from the crowds and appreciate the view and it’s only a £1 so well worth it!
I honestly can’t recommend Petra enough I wish I had more time to explore the vast amount of sites in Petra, but I think it’s safe to say I will defiantly be coming back in the future!Food & Drink
Amman Beach Resort – Dead Sea
The restaurant at Amman Beach Resort is a great spot for lunch, and is a buffet offering up lots of fresh salads, vegetable dishes, humus and breads and also has a hot food section serving up traditional rice and stew dishes. There is also a desert counter which has several Middle Eastern deserts available. If you are visiting the Amman Beach Resort I would suggest paying the little bit extra and having lunch there rather than just opting for the entrance fee choose to pay JOD30 and have lunch included. Top Tips
Petra is a 3 hour drive from Amman the capital and 2 hour drive from the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is about 1 hour drive from Amman. There are regular buses and tours that run from the capital but might take a little longer. There are lots of private tours and drivers you can also book. I was recommended Tareq by several of my work colleagues and you can WhatsApp (+962 7 7731 8987) him to organise your trip and he can tailor it to what you want to see and do.
I would recommend when visiting Petra to visit at a coooler time of year either in their spring or autumn and try and go as early as possible to beat the heat and the crowds, also if your planning a trip to Petra then try and allocate at least 1 to 2 full days at Petra, and try and experience the Bedouin way of life, as all around Petra there are lots of glamping sites available in the desert, and we drove past some geo domes which looked amazing!